Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Tree Hugger

Unable to sleep last night due to additional sets of elbows and knees, not to mention gymnastic limbs, piled into my bed. Nothing like a good sharp jab in the eye at 1 a.m.

Decide to try the couch. Moved the couch on Sunday to make way for ultra-realistic 9-foot Scotch Pine Christmas tree. Turn on lights, of course, believing this will induce dreamlike state of tranquility.

Tree is magnificent: perfectly proportioned, gloriously tall. Glistening long needles reflect pre-strung white lights, effecting both sparkle and shimmer.

Perfection drives home fact that "realistic" means not real. No needles on the floor. No piney scent.

Pad down to car in garage to fetch evergreen candle purchased last night. Lie on couch, gazing at magnificent ultra-realistic fake tree while deeply sniffing unlit candle.

Helping a little.

Try to conjure up memories of Christmas trees from childhood. Only memory emerging is of year Dad caught me smoking in bathroom. Grounded me for life on way to tree lot.

Set candle on table and get up to fuss with ornaments. Uneven depth perception, due to late hour and lack of eyeglasses, causes me to stumble into tree, rocking it up onto two of its four spindly plastic feet. Fortunately able to catch and return to upright position. Avert major disaster but suffer loss of red and gold Christmas ball.

Christmas casualty count stands at one.

Dustbust collateral damage. Recall youthful commitment to never compromise the spirit of Christmas with fake tree and Christmas balls.

Turn off tree lights and resign to oldest child's vacated bed. Fall asleep bathed in blue light from (also blue) aluminum tree on nightstand.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Few Of My Favorite Things

One of the select objectives I actually had in mind when I shuffled into Blogland was to share thoughts on books I read. Kind of a One Woman Book Club. Hope was that eventually someone else would have something to say about it...maybe that I am a brilliant literary critic, or even that I am so off the mark I do not deserve to touch the paper on which (insert author's name) has immortalized his genius.

Safe to say that I don't command quite the same breadth of audience as, oh let's just use an example, Oprah Winfrey. So for now will tuck current reading selection into my profile. If the two of you (am I up to two people yet?) are burning to know what's on my nightstand, that's where it will be.

Having said that, realized as I updated this morning that have not said one word about Mr. Wolff's tome, This Boy's Life, which I finished a few days ago.

Well I have exactly one word to say about it. I give it a big fat "Whatever." Synopsis: boy grows up in dysfunctional environment. Subjected to bullying authority figures. Acted out as a result. Maybe that was shocking in the 50s of his youth, but today we call that NORMAL. It was a yawn.

So last night chose my new read: My Life In France. The tale of Julia Child, living in Paris post World War II, learning to cook gourmet French cuisine.

Yep, that pretty much covers all the bases for me.

Seems to have been co-authored, a polite way of saying ghost written. Give the woman a break, she was 91.

Hope this woman's life was more intriguing than the boy's.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Contact High

Night has fallen on Black Friday, ushering in yet another season of joyful mayhem.

Truthfully, this has always been one of my favorite days of the year. And yes, I generally partake in the 4 a.m. reveille and yes, I was out in the crush this year as well - although not until almost noon.

Instead of heading out with a friend, each of us armed with lists and plans and coveted items to secure, took my elementary school-aged daughters. A bit difficult to conduct oneself with any sense of purpose in the company of those two - especially since they are primary beneficiaries of said lists/plans. So here's what we did (and sorry if we annoyed you, serious shoppers):

Shook all the snow globes in all the stores.

Sat in all the massage chairs in Brookstone.

Fondled all the soft blankets and pillows (also mostly in Brookstone, a very big hit with us today).

Picked up lots of shiny things made of glass to show each other.

Took a really long time ordering from the menu at lunch.

Didn't buy much. Felt a bit like I was breaking some Christmas shopping laws, meandering around with these two. One rather huffy cashier even pointed our shameful behavior out to us, tsking my little girl for buying herself a stuffed dog. It was almost enough to make me put back the snow globe.

Didn't put it back, of course. The little Santa sleigh really flies when you wind it up.

They aren't always such delightful companions, but today they were just that. Think I'll keep them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Thanksgiving

Not my intention to bore you with my every move and mood...but today, I must tell you, I am positively giddy.

Because it's snowing!

Pretty white tendrils are - well, starting to gather now and drive vertical rather than poetically drift in the sky - and making their debut a predictable two days before Thanksgiving.

New England, alas, is still New England.

Farewell, creepy unnatural warm fall weather!

Time to hibernate, harbingers of global warming crisis!

Well, there's still that whole skyrocketing cost of heating oil to contend with, but besides that...

Cue the holiday music!

Turn on the twinkly lights!

Time to be happy, dammit!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Here's What Sucks About Divorce

My kids are with their Dad this weekend. This gave me a little morning time to sort laundry.

Buried under the overflow was a nylon drawstring backpack, still full: the overnight bag of my youngest.

Carried to school two Fridays ago and flung into the hamper, wholesale, the following Sunday night.

These kids could go a month without repeating an outfit - a fringe benefit of the divorce, sponsored by Mom's Guilt over all of this shuffling back and forth. Clearly there was nothing in that bag that had been missed.

Dumped it out on the pile. Last two items to land were her ToothTunes brush and orange sparkle toothpaste, which she loves.

Which I replaced two Mondays ago, forgoing lunch. But couldn't find orange sparkle toothpaste anywhere and so had to substitute vanilla mint. Which she hates.

That's what sucks about divorce.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Friend B

I threw the poor girl out there and then hit the ejector button. How rude.

Surprisingly normal, that one. Married. Kids. Pretty house. Solid employment. Despite all of this, she seems pretty content with life.

We manage to have dinner together roughly twice a year. Exchange invitations to (but do not attend) various bring-your-checkbook type gatherings.

I'm not a hundred percent sure she's saved herself from this Look-at-Me hash out here, but I suspect she's not interested. I could definitely be wrong, though. Sounds like an excuse to use the phone.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Luddites Anonymous

Just finished reading A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut, which he wrote when he was 82 freaking years old. Good lord.

Bought the book over the summer - it was on the "Great Beach Reads" table at B&N - and remember feeling so proud of myself for branching out beyond my typical "serious literature" choices. It's a teeny little thing, this book. Nice comfortable font. I glimpsed some sketchy-type things when I fanned through it. A perfect quick read and a break for my brain.

Well I didn't read it over the summer, just picked it up off my shelf last weekend. Motivation was about the same - attended a writing seminar in New York a few weeks ago and ever since I got back have been battling this mounting sense of total inadequacy and doom. Could barely muster the self-confidence to pick something out that I would feel worthy of reading.

Enter KV and his sliver of a book with its hokey cartoon self-portrait on the cover. Ease back in, that was my plan. He's science fiction guy. No problem.

I really don't get what this book was doing on the Beach Reads table. Would like to go back to the store and slap them. It's freaking brilliant. If I read this book while sitting on the beach, I'd probably stand up, walk right into the ocean and keep going. Anyway, I can't do it justice so I won't even try.

One of the sections I liked most, though, was about being a Luddite. This is a person who hates newfangled stuff. Derived from name of a certain Englishman in 1800s who routinely destroyed the machines intended to replace him at his work. KV said he "welcomed" the label.

Count me in! Am about the most technologically unsavvy person I know, and I like it that way. Maybe, MAYBE, will break down and get an mp3 player this winter. But what am I supposed to do with all my CDs? This, my begrudging presence in cyberspace, is hurting my head.

Suppose this is not an appropriate way to be, particularly since I'm not 82. And I do have kids who will likely be forced to embrace "progress" in order to thrive. Not sure how to get over it, but for their sake perhaps I should try.

But which dependency is more destructive - progress or humanity?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Human Contact Is So Last Season...

Created this blog several days ago and have logged in every day since to stare into its emptiness. Once or twice I hovered the cursor over "new post" and pulled back at the last second. Fear? Doubt? Regret?

Mostly, startled by unfamiliar surroundings. Your classic "I hope they like me" jitters. And then it dawned on me:

Girlfriend, nobody's there!

So opening confession: my motives for joining ranks of Blogland are not entirely pure. Desperation led me here. Seems this upstart self-expression movement, with its innocent little mug, has a ravenous thirst for attention, namely that belonging to my closest friends. And oh, they are paying it all right.

But what you may not know is that Attention, like fossil fuels, exists in a finite quantity. Each of us only has so much to spend. So we must budget it.

A little here, a lot there. Maybe we squirrel some away to spend on special occasions. Sometimes we all just have to phone it in to satisfy some niggling obligation - refilling a prescription or getting our teeth cleaned. Do it and get back to work.

My point: attention, as a commodity, is exhaustible. This is where a little concept called prioritization comes into play.

Have gotten off track, and I so did not want to open my sweet, innocent little bloggy-blog with a rant. Plenty of time for that later.

To explain: I grew up with three very close friends, each from a different part of my life, each very special to me in a unique way. We'll call them Friend A, Friend B, Friend C. This will offend them, but seeing as I do not rank any acknowledgement whatsoever in their electronic worlds, that's just too bad. And anyway, have decided not to tell them right away that I am here...

So. Friend A and I bonded over artistic pursuit, bad home situations, and a common thirst for education. Friend B was my partying pal - and we had ourselves a really good time back in the day. We loved boys and rock music, and most of all rock boys. Were never the wildest, but we held our own.

Friend C...Friend C for most of my life I have considered Home. No matter what other ridiculous identities we may have been trying on with other people, with each other we could totally be ourselves. Good or bad. So we talked about art, and books, and parents, and boys, and rock music. And we ate ice cream on Saturday night and watched the Golden Girls.

Fast forward to now...surely I am mature and intelligent enough to know that one cannot go on eating ice cream every Saturday night with friends for eternity. We are all grownups with lives. This is so not the problem.

Trouble began with the Internet.

Friend A currently sports something like a hundred bazillion "friends"-in electronic form-with whom she shares what I'm sure are quite meaningful give and take relationships. In fact, quite a few of them have earned the distinction of "dear/close friend." Huh! Of course, I haven't warranted so much as a phone call in probably 4 months.

Friend C actually was the person to introduce blog to me, a few years ago now, while she was having a real live conversation with me (!)...seemed a bit put out with the telling of her own anecdote, tossed in the statement "I wrote about it in my blog." As though I would understand that. Probably took three more instances like that before she realized I did NOT understand and sent me a link. And so I came to know.

Since then I have watched from the outside as what started, I thought, as coping mechanism for trying experience she was enduring, bloomed into the mammoth, attention-sucking, life-dominating BFF that I'm sure it now considers itself. Even if she is not quite at that point. We still talk occasionally, but that whole finite attention supply thing?

Hello, I'm Niggling Obligation. And you are?

It's all very harsh, I know. Quite possible that I am overreacting. Not like I haven't tried to understand and deal with the presence of this new...cripe, it's not even a PERSON...in the dead center of my friends' lives. Have also tried whining, withdrawing in disgust (TOTALLY UNNOTICED), and even faithful reading of their online selves in a sincere attempt to adapt. Even tried a few cheery remarks to show that I'm reading them and hey, great stuff! In the end, I find it all quite invasive and freaky and disturbing.

So here I am. Hey, maybe eventually someone will be out there. Someone who will tell me I am a freaking crybaby. Or who will say "Amen, sister! Speak it!" Heaven knows what I am going to write about. I promise you this: I will NOT be here every day (take that, NaBloPoMo!)

Who knows? It could be that you, coy little Internet, are the BFF I have always dreamed of. Do you like chocolate chip?